'Paid Leave for Paper Boys' by Order of EU; SHOCK FOR SHOPKEEPERS IN NEW RULES ON WORKING TIME

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL EASTHAM

NEWSPAPER delivery boys and girls could qualify for four weeks paid leave a year under the latest EU rules, it was claimed yesterday.

Trade Department officials have warned newsagents about the implications of the working-time directive, which came into effect in the UK late last year.

Shop owners were horrified at the prospect that youngsters doing paper rounds might be entitled to the same rights as adult shop assistants. Trade bodies warned that the extra expense could mean the loss of thousands of pocket money jobs and the collapse of the newspaper delivery system.

They said the development flies in the face of promises by Ministers that they would implement Brussels law with as light a touch as possible.

But last night Trade Secretary Stephen Byers was said to be determined that the regulations will not cover the youngsters.

Mr Byers, who has been in the job for only six weeks, was reported to be 'furious' after he was belatedly told that the regulations may extend to paper boys and girls. He has demanded to know why the possibility was not spotted earlier. Last night his officials admitted that they could face a court action claiming the rights for young workers.

Although the Government would fight the case vigorously, there was no guarantee it would win.

A spokesman said: 'Our view is that newspaper delivery boys and girls are not covered by the regulations in the working time directive.

'It was never, in our view, intended to give rights of annual leave to young workers. …